Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious! Come on, that’s what life is about as we approach the new season, even if you support Liverpool and are in hiding after a 0-4 friendly tattering from Man U this week. There’s everything to play for in the world of fantasy league where sixty points (that’s two assists and a goal from Cancelo played as triple captain) can make your weekend. This week’s fantasy league (pre-season) update showcases a rather fetching photo of Anthony Gordon, Dominic Calvert-Lewis and Tom Davies, the Everton trio sporting their latest haute couture fashion statements ahead of rigorous pre-season training. And I’ll leave it there.
Not a lot to report this week, other than I’ve been watching YouTube videos of Bernado Silva, just in case he ducks a transfer to Barcelona and fancies teaming up with his old mate Vinnie at Turf Moor. You can analyse every goal scored in football till the cows come home but sometimes a proper player just puts one in with some sublime skills and you just have to applaud. I’ve found an entire YouTube collection of Bernado’s great goals scored against Man U: the lovely goal in April 19, jinking past Luke Shaw before placing a sublime finish in the corner; a rip-snorter from way out in January 20; the tap in in November 21 – the one where Harry McG and Luke S (again) were dawdling at the back post, and Bernie just jogs in behind them to tap it home. Bernardo has scored more goals at Old T in three games than Jesse Lingard did in these three seasons (Fact Checked).
With attention turning to Boris’s exit and where he and wife Wendy Wallpaper will scarper too next, you may have missed that Paul Pogba has rejoined Juventus on a four-year deal. He left as a boy and returns as a man was the ridiculous Juve statement, handily reminding us how time works. The news that Paul is swapping the Lowry outlet for the chic Montenapoleone streets of Turin has seen both JD Sport and Sports Direct close at the Salford Quays retail outlet (NOT Fact Checked).
It’s been a summer where many big names have moved on or are looking to get a move – Mané, Lukaku, Pogba, Ronaldo and Lewandowski, five of the hottest properties in world football, providing us with an oblique sideshow where the protagonists live out their lives on Instagram. These global stars seem to have set the entire football world alive on buzz, rumour, and myth, cascading down to our domestic league, that even Burnley are now producing Hollywood style videos to announce our new signings. Check this out for signing of Josh Cullen from Anderlecht:
How did we get here? How did the simple, prosaic act of registering a footballer for a new club become so culturally important? Partly, of course, it is the passion and tribal affection for our team, and the optimism of fans is piqued and teased by media organisations hungry for clicks, by clubs hungry for social engagement, by players keen to reclaim control of their own narrative and brand ( I refer you back to Anthony, Dominic and Thomas earlier). The irony is that signing star players for big money is one of the riskiest and least efficient ways of making a football team better – Barcelona blew £142m on Philippe Coutinho from Liverpool (see below) – and as we all know in Fantasy League too!
Meanwhile Liverpool have pulled their usual money-laundering stunt as they do every close season for a never-likely-to-play youngster, trousering a nifty £17m for Neco Williams – 13 league games for Liverpool, 14 on loan at Fulham – from Nottingham Forest who seemed to have had a reverse Robin Hood done on them. Liverpool are masters at this illicit fundraising gig every close-season: £19m for Dominic Solanke (Bournemouth), Rhian Brewster (Sheffield United, £24m), Jana-Hoever (Wolves, £14m). Forest boss Steve Cooper seems to have CCTV access on Williams’ living accommodation, after welcoming him to the club, saying We believe that he’s got an incredibly high ceiling. Maybe he’s renting Peter Crouch’s old place.
Anyway, your Fantasy League detox is over, it’s back to business with just three vacant weekends to get through watching cricket, golf, or mowing the lawn. It’s almost as important as the real game itself. I recall being at a Burnley game some seasons ago, when I had Everton’s Joleon Lescott and Mikel Arteta in my Fantasy team. I was listening to Radio 5 Live commentary Bolton v Everton with an earpiece watching Burnley meander to a sterile 0-0, when the commentary caught my attention. Everton got a corner. Arteta took it, Lescott scored. I jumped up and cheered. All those around me gave me funny looks – almost as much as when versus Chelsea a few years later. I was the only one of the 22,000 spectators in the ground – plus the ref, two linos and the Burnley bench – to see a John Terry handball in the box. Again, I jumped out and shouted HANDBALL!!! loudly and raised two hands in the air, expecting 18,000 other Burnley fans to join me. But no one else saw it. Just wry smiles. To this day I know we were robbed.
There’s going to be fun and games at the Becks household this season – no, not those publicity loving narcissistic social media junkies look-at-me-everyone folks who live in Hollywood and have Class of ’92 reunion parties – but Paul and Chris of this parish, now joined by Chris’ brother Michael in our league. Can I also share this with you as part of our community? Chris was a lunatic last weekend and ran his first Ultra marathon to raise funds for The Christie, where Paul is undergoing treatment. Chris strolled around Snowdon in the blistering heat whilst we all sat in the garden sipping ice cold beers in the blistering heat. Here’s his Just Giving page showing the stats from the day – 73k steps, nearly 7k calories burned, and a heart as big as a lion filled with bravery, compassion, and humanity. It would be great if you could find time and some spare cash from down the back of the sofa to log on and donate to support Chris:
So, get your team sorted and back into the league, and feel free to invite friends and family and Man U fans who obviously know nothing about football along. The web link is here:
Our league code is 8nq3fh. In next week’s update I’ll be profiling some of the players in our league, discussing their chances in this year’s competition, and asking just why we spend hours putting ourselves through the highs and lows of the weekly transfer wrangling for 38 weeks.